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Quick Flicks: The Secret Policeman's Ball - U.S.A.

by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Filmed at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 2012, The Secret Policeman's Ball - U.S.A. was a benefit show for Amnesty International that featured a stellar line-up of comedians and a couple of musical acts.

The funny business starts off with a taped segment from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who deadpans "I'm a funny guy" and jokes that he had thought about abandoning fighting injustice for a career in comedy but decided against it because comedy is "too hard." Tutu closes his brief remarks by saying that most of the comedians to follow would be very funny but a couple "would blow it." Thankfully, they don't, and the 2-hour-+ program flows just fine.

Some of the acts, like Eddie Izzard, do stand-up bits, but many of the funniest segments are sketches involving more than one comedian, like Jon Stewart interviewing Rex Lee as Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, John Oliver interviewing Bill Hader as WikiLeaks' Julian Assange and Russell Brand and Noel Fielding riffing on Amnesty International.

A couple of moments are not meant to be funny such as when Liam Neeson brings on Zarganar, a Burmese comedian who was a prisoner of conscience in Burma up until a couple years ago. The Zarganar/Neeson segment is basically a serious pitch for Amnesty Internatiional but Zarganar does get in one zinger at the end of the piece.

For music, Mumford & Sons perform "Roll Away Your Stone," Coldplay turns in the trio of "Viva La Vida," "Paradise" and "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" and fake group The Amnestones featuring Fred Armisen and Kristen Wiig perform a non-song.

Among the many others appearing are Jason Sudeikis, Bob Odenkirk, Rachel Dratch, Jay Pharaoh, Bobby Moynihan, Sarah Silverman, David Cross and Paul Rudd.

The Secret Policeman's Ball originated in the '70s and was the brainchild of John Cleese of the Monty Python troupe; Cleese does not appear but his fellow Pythons Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Jones do.

The video will be released on February 25th. You can pre-order the DVD here and the Blu-Ray here

Quick Flicks: The Secret Policeman's Ball - U.S.A.
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